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album Reviews Feature albums

Jebediah

I Am The Agent

Due Porcess/Universal

Independent

I Want That You Are Always Happy

4/5

3.5/5

Spunk

Kosciuszko

Loyal fans of Jebediah have been waiting patiently for close to seven years for a new album from the West Australian rockers. Their patience has finally been rewarded with the release of the band’s fifth studio album, Kosciuszko. What is immediately obvious when listening to this record is the influence on the band of lead vocalist Kevin Mitchell’s recent work, performing as Bob Evans, and his time as a member of The Basement Birds. The signature nasal vocals heard on previous records have been replaced by a much more polished style of delivery. The change is most noticeable during ‘To Your Door’ and particularly the final track, ‘Are We OK?’. Delicate guitar work and soft vocals make for a very adult contemporary vibe. However, this is balanced by tracks that showcase the old-school Jebediah sound. The album opener, ‘Lost My Nerve’, features heavily distorted guitar and bass and the grittiest vocals of the record. Overall, Kosciuszko is much more pop than alt-rock, making it extremely easy and enjoyable hear. Jebediah fans who enjoyed Mitchell’s solo work will love this record and it was certainly worth the wait. ~Amelia Parrott

The Wombats This Modern Glitch

14th Floor Records/Warner

4.5/5

Arguably the best pop release of the year, This Modern Glitch is impossible not to love. Filled with exuberant riffs, convincing vocals and a newly-adopted synth-heavy sound, this sophomore album marks a mature progression for UK threepiece, The Wombats. While the Liverpool band’s 2007 debut, A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation, was charming in its cheeky schoolboy approach, This Modern Glitch is sleek and sophisticated. Produced in LA, it also leaves behind the heavily-accented British gimmick of their ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’ fame. Highly-rotated first single, ‘Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)’, offers an accurate snapshot – with its thumping bass and shimmering synth, it’s ultra-uplifting, infectiously catchy and polished to perfection. Despite this though, the record’s subject matter is actually quite melancholic. Lead vocalist Matthew Murphy makes frequent reference to his penchant for prescription medication (‘Anti-D’), dysfunctional relationships (‘Our Perfect Disease’) and sexual escapism involving lessthan-desirable women (‘Jump into the Fog’) – giving This Modern Glitch the raw, heartfelt edge that makes it really bloody brilliant. ~Lee Tobin

22  reverb

magazine issue #059 — June 2011

Volume Two

The second release in a series of three EPs, local noise merchants I Am The Agent have continued to fulfil the promise they have shown as a live act. The percussive, post-punk drive of opening track ‘Blood Brothers’ makes an immediate impact, and sits in clear contrast to the extended closing jam ‘Trees’ , with its stark arrangement and mix of studio trickery. Atmospheric guitars and treated vocals feature throughout the EP, helping to create a claustrophobic space that allows these songs to express the energy they were recorded with. Singer Michael Gale also manages to channel his musical influences on the Bright Eyes-ish ‘Pelican’, and therein lies the beauty of this release – its four tracks cover a multitude of sound textures and emotions that leave you wanting more. Bring on Volume Three. ~Paul Frost

James Blake James Blake Polydor/Universal

4/5

Budding young musician James Blake lives up to expectations with the release of his muchanticipated debut album, with its abundance of amazing compositions and unique sound. Blake utilises auto-tune technology in every song and in all the right places, reminiscent of folk superstar project Bon Iver, but with an exclusively soul flavour. There isn’t anything overtly exciting or bombastic on this record, in fact, its success is in its minimalist style. An elaborate combination of electronic ambience and reverberation, Blake’s album is a post-dubstep escapade with no individually stand out tracks, but a cohesive collection of musical movements, choreographed to near perfection.  ~Josh Clements

Foo Fighters Wasting Light Sony

3.5/5

The Fooeys have largely been a disappointment since the release of their first two sensational albums. Releasing a new album virtually every two to three years since their inception in 1994, they seem to have fallen victim to a ‘quantity over quality’ routine. Wasting Light still doesn’t match the brilliance of 1995’s self-titled debut, nor The Colour and the Shape from 1997, but it is a good, solid collection of Foo Fighters tunes. Anyone who has followed the band over the years will be well satisfied with this effort. It rocks hard in all the right places; the choruses are as catchy as you’d expect of the Grohl hitmaking machine, and Butch Vig’s production is easy on the ears. Plus, in first single ‘Rope’, the band have created one of the grooviest tunes they’ve produced for quite some time. ‘One of these Days’ has rock radio potential written all over it. This is still an album of ‘moments’ but there are just a few more of them. At a stretch, it’s their best effort since the late 90s, and well worth some of your hard earned. ~Rod Whitfield

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The Middle East

3.5/5

When a seven-piece outfit takes two years to produce an album, you could be forgiven for thinking they are struggling to combine so many sounds. Instead, The Middle East have produced an eclectic mix of darkly beautiful ballads, coupled with catchy folk riffs, sure to be popular on the airwaves. Stand-out single ‘Jesus Came To My Birthday Party’ offers an upbeat pop hit, not quite eclipsed by the album’s sombre tone, while the riffs on ‘Hunger Song’ are reminiscent of Fleet Foxes. The highlight of this album is the instrumental layers, with the building momentum of the piano, on tracks like ‘Sydney to Newcastle’, revealing a complexity underlying the poprock front fans have come to know. At first listen some of the middle tracks blur together, but the album’s sophisticated sound soon makes itself heard. A slow-burner. ~Shelby Houghton

The Blackwater Fever In Stereo +1 Records

4/5

Sweet Misery, the 2008 debut from Brisbane duo The Blackwater Fever, coupled gritty blues-rock with bleak, sinister undertones to great effect. In Stereo treads a similar path, minus some of the grimy charm and rough edges of its predecessor. Carefully refined in both production values and songwriting approach, the new album has a more accessible sound, with subtle shades of light infiltrating the darker tones. The title track highlights the greater emphasis on catchy hooks, riding a memorable chorus over a comfortably-paced blues groove. ‘Sophia’s Waltz’ sees the band in soulful, reflective ballad mode, while ‘Back Roads’ and ‘Shot Thru’ blend raucous rock ‘n’ roll with swinging blues at the album’s peak. The latter sees Shane Hicks (vocals/guitars) deliver a refreshingly gruff vocal over an addictive riff. Though comparisons to The Black Keys are inevitable, In Stereo proves The Blackwater Fever have their own voice and a fresh take on a retro formula, delivering an assured, confident album that demands a wider audience. Recommended.  ~Luke Saunders

Turner Ghosts

Independent

3.5/5

After employing his talents in a series of bands over the past decade, Gold Coast-based Richard Grewar has funnelled his creative input into a solo project, adopting his family name ‘Turner’ as the moniker. Inspired by acts such as Radiohead and Gotye, channelled into a decidedly alternative sound, Ghosts’ high points, spearheaded by Grewar’s baritone charm, include the rolling, calculated punch of ‘Picking Locks’ and the phenomenally catchy hooks of ‘Always’. Grewar is a talented songwriter, but his experimental edge is diluted by its limited range. Regardless, he is one to watch. ~Michael Sykes

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Liam Finn FOMO

Liberation

4/5

What is it with those Finn genes and a knack for cerebral pop perfection? It’s been almost four years since Liam Finn’s solo debut was released to critical acclaim, and this follow-up showcases the same innate sensibilities – every track massaged and twisted in his own genre-hopping style. The album’s title is an acronym for ‘fear of missing out’, and each track explores this notion — from the perfect 60s pop of ‘Cold Feet’, with its gorgeous vocal lines and Motown groove, to the dreamy idealism of ‘Chase The Seasons’. Finn’s mastery of instruments and studio technique (all songs were written and performed by Finn himself) has helped create an alt-pop album that thoroughly and gleefully ignores all the norms expected of the genre. ~Paul Frost

Nick and Liesl Feather

Independent

4/5

This debut album from central coast folk duo Nick and Leisl is a classy follow-up to their 2008 EP Wyong River. On first listen, it’s a tough choice as to which is the standout: the gobsmackingly powerful and melodic vocals – think Angus Stone/Katie Noonan – or the first-class sound production, topped off with thoughtful lyrics, fine musicianship and the album’s wonderfully eclectic folk/ pop/soul style. Like Wyong River, which earned an ABC Award for sound production, Feather was crafted in the pair’s backyard studio and features a slew of über-talented collaborators, including Paul Kelly/Rockwiz drummer Pete Luscombe, Kasey Chamber’s bass player, Jeff McCormack, and country guitar maestro Glen Hannah. Crown amongst the jewels? The slinky ‘Witch’s Brew’ — a simply beautiful song on this simply beautiful album. ~Craig Faulkner

An Horse Walls

Mom and Pop Records

4/5

Australians write the best homesick melodies. ‘I’m in London Still’, ‘I Still Call Australia Home’, ‘Wide Open Road’, ‘Cattle and Cane’, to name but a few. Walls is An Horse’s contribution to this unique history — an album brimming with excitement for the future and longing for a far-away place. Opening with the first single ‘Dressed Sharply’, Kate Cooper, yearning for news from home, chants “I will read every word that you send me”. The homesickness becomes much darker in the beautiful ‘Brain on a Table’. This track relates Cooper’s anxiety and powerlessness while a loved one undergoes surgery across the seas. She sings “the divide is oceans wide” and begs “just please wake up”. If An Horse, like many bands before them, had to leave our shores to reach this level of musical and lyrical maturity, then it’s a fair sacrifice. As Cooper sings in ‘Swallow the Sea’, “maybe it’s our convict blood”. ~Kirsty Visman

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Reverb Magazine - Issue 59  

Reverb Magazine - Issue 59